Yesterday was the second year for the Willamette Week's Pro/AM event, held this year at Zarr Studios in SE. I wasn't able to attend last year's event but heard it was great and I was stoked to be attending this year. Even better, I'd been invited to be one of five judges AND I knew a fair number of the pros and amateurs that were competing.
With 21 pairs, and therefore 21 beers to drink my way through, I aimed to be strategic in my drinking, starting with the lower alcohol, lighter styles. Thankfully, there was a gigantic DigitalPour display projected on one of the walls for easy reference. It took a lot of restraint not to dive into the higher alcohol, darker styles I generally gravitate towards. And it took more focus to take thorough notes on each beer before moving on. As the afternoon wore on I also had to remind myself to keep moving to ensure that I made it through them all by 5:00 when then the judges would begin deliberating.
The beers ran the gamut from a very flavorful India Session Ale brewed at Ecliptic by home brewing couple Jenn McPoland and Jeremie Landers to a pale ale made with Hogan's cedar tips and Brett from home brewer Dave Barnes with new kid, Baerlic, to a Baltic Porter that bordered on being a milk stout, made at Fort George by home brewer Chad Graham. While there were styles and beers I preferred over others there wasn't a bad beer to be had in the room and the scores I gave the beers fell into a relatively narrow range.
1. Lucky Lab/Natalie Baldwin/Kells Boom Roaster with Ristretto Roasters (Imperial Coffee Milk Stout)
2. Pints/Kory Linsenmeyer Big Rig (Cascadian Dark Lager)
3. 10 Barrel/Lee Hedgmon Strawberry Shortcake's Velvet Hammer (Milk Stout)
1. Lucky Lab/Natalie Baldwin/Kell's Boom Roaster with Ristretto Roasters (Imperial Coffee Milk Stout)
2. Coalition/Matt Cortese Rock the Casbah Saison (Spiced Saison)
3. Breakside/Dan Shaw & Steven Rice Nants-Saison-Yah (Saison)
Besides Natalie having bragging rights for taking for taking both categories she also has the opportunity to have her beer re-brewed and put on tap at TILT.
Thank you to Steph and all of the Willamette Week staff that pulled off a great event. Thank you to the home and professional brewers that worked together to make so many great beers. Thank you to my fellow judges for easing the daunting task of selecting a top three.
If you weren't able to make it to the event, or are just hoping to have more of your favorites, keep your eyes peeled as I have a feeling some of these beers may be available (in very limited quantities) around town.